Switzerland-based investing and strategy firm Impact Economy has launched the Myanmar edition of its “Sustainable Apparel Value Chains: A Primer on Industry Transformation” report, which analyses the competitiveness and sustainability issues facing the $3-trillion global textile and garment industry.
“Myanmar’s garment industry is booming. It earned more than $917 million in exports in 2012 and could easily employ more than 100,000 people by 2015,” said Dr Maximilian Martin, the author of the report and founder of Impact Economy.
“The Primer aims to inform the Burmese garment and textile industry and its stakeholders working toward combining competitiveness with greater sustainability,” the company said in a statement.
A number of developments are currently transforming the industry such as the movement from slow to fast fashion, shift of production from advanced economies towards emerging markets and the increasing support for greater transparency.
“Garments are already the country’s most important manufactured export and numerous new factories are being built. The revival of the industry could yield important development dividends as the country modernises,” Martin added.
Despite progress, the industry is nevertheless less sustainable today than it has ever been: a point that was brought to global attention by the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza accident in Bangladesh. With a long tradition in textile and garments and excellent craftsmanship, Myanmar’s garment cluster could well graduate beyond $6 billion in garment exports within a few years.
The report identifies a series of key levers that could help achieve this kind of industry transformation, including considering the entire supply chain to foster resource productivity and transparency, upgrading industry infrastructure, improving working conditions.
“Myanmar’s enthusiasm to catch up with its neighbours is at an all-time high. Getting the job done and setting Myanmar on a path to becoming a leading sustainable apparel cluster is possible,” said Martin.
“This shift will require transferring best practices, collaboration between government, industry associations, producers, buyers and civil society, and having the guts to act.”